Holy kale: Bill Granger's delicious recipes prove being virtuous doesn't mean depriving yourself

Last year's trendiest ingredient doesn't look like going away any time soon, says our chef

The holidays are over and it's time for penance – but it doesn't have to be painful: deprivation is definitely not on the menu. I'm all for eating virtuous food just as long as it's also delicious, and I can't think of an ingredient that fits that brief better than kale.

I was reading an article recently on the most overused food trends of 2013 and second on the list, after Sriracha sauce, came kale. Well, I think it's a trend that still has legs, at least till the end of the current season anyway…

I don't know why it has suddenly become so huge. It all started a few years ago with cavolo nero (aka Tuscan kale) appearing in hearty restaurant soups, then it became impossible to escape a bowl of curly kale chips. Now it's all about shredded kale salads and green juices, LA-style. Call me a fashion-victim, but I can't get enough of it.

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com

Cavolo nero, blood orange, spelt and almond salad

There's nothing fancy about this salad; just beautiful, simple ingredients brought together with care.

Serves 4

200g spelt
200g cavolo nero, stalks removed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ orange
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp caster sugar
2 blood oranges, peeled and torn into chunks
65g almonds, sliced

Cook the spelt according to packet instructions and drain. Set aside. Place the chopped cavolo nero in a bowl with the lemon and orange juice, olive oil, salt and sugar. Toss well and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

To serve, tip the warm spelt into the cavolo nero. Add the orange and almonds and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cavolo nero and courgette soup with chickpeas

This soup ticks all the boxes: warming, flavoursome, wholesome and revitalising.

Cavolo nero and courgette soup with chickpeas (Kristin Perers) Cavolo nero and courgette soup with chickpeas (Kristin Perers)
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 courgettes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
¼ tsp crushed chillies, plus extra to serve
1 litre good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
300g cavolo nero, stalks removed and shredded
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add the courgettes, garlic, onion and chillies. Season with salt and cover.

Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Pour in the stock, increase the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Whiz with a hand-held blender until smooth. Bring back to the boil and add the cavolo nero and chickpeas.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with grated Parmesan, extra crushed chillies and a drizzle of olive oil.

Miso, curly kale and kabocha pumpkin

This makes a great side-dish for teriyaki chicken, or serve it as a main with brown rice or buckwheat noodles.

Miso, curly kale and kabocha pumpkin (Kristin Perers) Miso, curly kale and kabocha pumpkin (Kristin Perers)
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side dish

600g Kabocha pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
250g curly kale, larger leaves torn
1 tbsp white miso paste
Brown rice or buckwheat noodles, to serve

Put the pumpkin in a large frying pan and add the soy, sugar and 500ml of water.

Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the kale, cover with a lid and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Stir the miso paste into the broth. Serve with the rice or noodles.

Food stylists: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds; Prop stylist: Rachel Jukes

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